Super Bowl Party Tips: Avoiding a Super-Sized Mess

There's the crusty, dried salsa you find stuck to your coffee table, the tortilla chip crumbs ground into the carpet, and, of course, the drinks that spilled when everyone jumped up after an interception. How do you avoid a messy house (and kitchen) when throwing a Super Bowl party? We've got some tips. The thing that makes a Super Bowl party messier than your average dinner party is that your guests are not contained at a table. Everyone is reaching for food across the couch, getting up and moving around, losing their glasses and getting a new one, and so on.

Also: You are likely feeding people for a continuous three-hour stretch. That can mean a lot of food, a lot of prep, and a lot of destruction in your kitchen.

Here are some ideas to make the whole shebang more tidy:

Serve a cohesive meal. Just because the game lasts for several hours doesn't mean everyone needs to have a piece of food in hand for the entire time. Class it up and serve a meal rather than an endless spread of appetizers. Have one or two starters, and then serve dinner at halftime. You'll dirty fewer pots in the kitchen making fewer dishes, and you can even plate everything yourself to avoid spills.

At the very least, limit your options. We are strong proponents of cooking a lot of a few dishes. This is the easiest way we know to keep your kitchen clean(er).

Go easy on the dips. Yeah, dips are sort of standard. But people ferrying something to their mouths on a veggie stick while watching television is a messy endeavor. And salsa stains. Try chunkier dips less likely to drip.

Make as much as you can ahead of time. It's Party Planning 101: Do the bulk of your cooking the day before, so your kitchen is clean the day of. If you're making a full meal, do something in the slow cooker! Then all you have to make is a side dish or salad. Here are some more tips for getting organized in advance.

Cut down on dirty glasses. You can use paper plates and cups, if you really want to minimize cleaning time, but we'd recommend finding a way to ID each person's glass so that they don't use six in the course of the evening. Use this tip for identifying beer bottles, use wine charms, or make cute paper labels for glasses.

Skip dessert. By the time people eat chips, dips, and that awesome thing you made in the slow cooker, they're stuffed. We love sweets (especially these), but dessert isn't essential. At the very least, don't dirty up another round of plates serving cake or ice cream. Do finger food. And avoid chocolate cake or brownies; those crumbs can be treacherous.

Or make dessert the main event. Ok, on the flip side, you could order pizza and then focus your time and talents on a dessert spread. Almost all desserts can be made ahead of time, so you'd start the evening with a clean kitchen.

Clean as you go. Make a recycling run at halftime (or just bag up all of the empty beer bottles) so that there's less clutter at the end of the night. Run a load in the dishwasher if you have time. You don't want to avoid your guests or miss a big commercial touchdown, but if you can do a few little things during the game, you'll have less of a headache to face later.

What other tips do you have on avoiding chaos during a Super Bowl party?

Related: Clean Your Kitchen in Five Steps!

(Image: Flickr member Mary-Lynn, licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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